Home oxygen - what else do I need to know?

Home oxygen - what else do I need to know?

Some helpful tips on looking after your baby with home oxygen, including how to monitor their progress and when the home oxygen can stop.

Feeding

For some infants, respiratory illnesses can prevent safe or effective oral feeding and they may need nasogastric tube feeding.

Temperature and body regulation

It is important to keep your baby warm but not overheated. A room temperature of 18 to 20 degrees Celsius is best. Avoid polar fleece where possible as synthetic materials increase a baby's risk of overheating. Natural, breathable fabrics such as wool and cotton are best.

What medications will my baby need?

When your baby goes home from hospital, they may need to take a medicine to help remove extra fluid from their lungs. This makes it easier for them to breathe. These medicines are called diuretics. 

If your baby was premature, they will also need Vitadol C and iron (most likely ferrous sulfate).

Immunisation

It's important for premature infants to have their immunisations on time according to their actual date of birth, not their corrected age. See Immunisation overview for more information.

Car seats 

Children with chronic neonatal lung disease can find it difficult to breathe when sitting in a car seat. It may be necessary for your infant to have an oximetry test while in a car seat to check this before leaving hospital.

Weight

Your homecare nurse or paediatrician will talk with you about the ideal weight for your baby.

It's important for your baby to gain weight (which also improves lung growth) but it's good to keep this in perspective. 

Playgroups 

It is important to provide social and play options for your baby. It's also important to weigh this against the risk of infection to your medically fragile infant. Talk to your nurse about low-risk options in your area such as 'premmie playgroup'.

How do I judge my baby's milestones?

Remember to check your baby's development according to their due date. Medically fragile infants may be slow to develop in some areas due to medical reasons but this does not mean they will not catch up.

Babies all develop at different ages and stages and talking to your nurse or visiting neurodevelopmental therapist will give you a better idea on how your baby is doing.

Follow up

It is important to go to any recommended appointments.

A specialist neonatal homecare nurse will come to your house to follow up. All newborn intensive care units in New Zealand have a homecare nurse who will be your link back to the hospital. In some areas, the homecare nurse may be unable to visit themselves but they may help manage your baby's care through a nurse that lives in your community.

A paediatrician will also monitor your baby's progress. It is important to go to any recommended appointments.

Stopping home oxygen

Weaning of oxygen flow rates will happen as your infant improves. Infants will typically have overnight oximetry studies every 2-6 weeks with the first run taking place within 2 weeks of leaving hospital.

Oxygen can be reduced and eventually removed if your child:

  • keeps growing
  • has no evidence of pulmonary hypertension (increased blood pressure in the heart and lungs)
  • can maintain oxygen levels of greater than 93 percent when off oxygen

The content on this page has been developed and approved by the Clinical Reference Group of the Newborn Clinical Network, Paediatric Society New Zealand.

This page last reviewed 24 August 2017.
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